This post follows my last blog post about the first half of my trip to the USA in Seattle. I travelled over for my long awaited workshops with Kathie of Bellissima Art EscapesA Moment in Time in Seattle and then A Moment in Time in Portland. There are a lot of photos but I wanted to share as much of the incredible work as I could!

After a full week in Seattle, Kathie and I enjoyed a few days off in her hometown of Gig Harbor – resting, playing and preparing for the next week, which would see us travelling down to Portland. Our venue this time was the fascinating McMenamins Kennedy School Hotelwhich was used as an elementary school from 1915 to I think the 1970s. Each of the rooms is themed along the lines of the subjects taught there and there are original features such as tiny cloakrooms and classroom chalkboards, the auditorium (which is now a movie theatre) and quirky bars such as the Old Boiler Room.

The Boiler Room bar, the old school corridors and the Restaurant with an abundance of pretty lights

With long corridors adorned with original artwork and photographs from the original days of the school and amazing doors and features, it was the perfect venue for another Moment in Time Workshop!
Gillian Lee Smith - This was our classroom for the week - complete with chalkboards and huge windows (and our DIY practical floor covering to protect the carpets).

This was our classroom for the week – complete with chalkboards and huge windows (and our DIY practical floor covering to protect the carpets).

Gillian Lee Smith - Charcoal drawings by Angela Kennedy, Joan Tucker, Kara Strachan Bullock and Heather Laidlaw

Charcoal drawings by Angela Kennedy, Joan Tucker, Kara Strachan Bullock and Heather Laidlaw

For this week, the focus was more on portraits and the first day was dedicated to gestural, expressive portraits in one of my favourite mediums – charcoal. I am not sure if the artists were working at a frenzied pace or if time magically slowed but the amount of work covering the walls by the end of day one was incredible!
Gillian Lee Smith - Charcoal drawings by Kathie Vezzani, Joanne Desmond and Carol MacConnell

Charcoal drawings by Kathie Vezzani, Joanne Desmond and Carol MacConnell

We also spent some time on days one and two gaining inspiration from the building – looking at the larger elements such as corridors but also the smaller details such as the amazing lights in the restaurant room and doorways and windows.
Gillian Lee Smith - Charcoal drawings by Kathy Sandler, Kristina Solheim and Erin Santen

Charcoal drawings by Kathy Sandler, Kristina Solheim and Erin Santen

Gillian Lee Smith - Charcoal drawings by Ivy Newport, Sharon Jonquil and Chrissie England

Charcoal drawings by Ivy Newport, Sharon Jonquil and Chrissie England

Moving into inks, again the aim was to work expressively with no expectations. I began a couple of pieces in class and as we were able to work in the classroom in the evenings, I had a little more time to finish some of them.
Gillian Lee Smith - My ink portrait demos - started in class and finished one evening

My ink portrait demos – started in class and finished one evening

Gillian Lee Smith - Ink portraits by Kristina Solheim, Erin Santen and Sharon Jonquil

Ink portraits by Kristina Solheim, Erin Santen and Sharon Jonquil

Everyone embraced the unpredictability of this medium and once again it was fascinating to see the way each artist created work that was absolutely unique to them. We were mostly working with the same or similar reference images and yet it is always interesting to me what each person draws from that inspiration and the way they create characters that incorporate their own unique aesthetic.

Gillian Lee Smith - Ink portraits by Joan Tucker, Kara Strachan Bullock and Heather Laidlaw

Ink portraits by Joan Tucker, Kara Strachan Bullock and Heather Laidlaw

There are artists who love working with line – exploring the contours of the face in a highly expressive way. Others are drawn to the deep shadows and contrasts of tone and value – and some love combining both of these things!

Gillian Lee Smith - Ink portraits by Kathie Vezzani, Carol MacConnell, Joanne Desmond and Kathy Sandler

Ink portraits by Kathie Vezzani, Carol MacConnell, Joanne Desmond and Kathy Sandler

There were inventive ways of working with colour, highly atmospheric portraits with a limited palette, bold and exploratory ways of working with abstracting the face and highly emotive portraits.

Gillian Lee Smith - Ink Portraits by Angela Kennedy, Chrissie England and Ivy Newport

Ink Portraits by Angela Kennedy, Chrissie England and Ivy Newport

My focus as a workshop leader is to encourage a deep exploration of what appeals to each artist and what they want to say with their art and portraits. To embrace individuality and enable each person to journey along their own path. This is why I find it much more valuable to work my way around and around the room, spending time with each individual artist and focussing on what is on the easel in front of them rather than anything I might be creating.

Gillian Lee Smith - A few snapshots of the studio and works in progress - by the end of day one these walls were filled with amazing artworks and it continued throughout the week.

A few snapshots of the studio and works in progress – by the end of day one these walls were filled with amazing artworks and it continued throughout the week.

Gillian Lee Smith - My painting demo - I had a little more time to work in the evenings this week so I managed to finish this portrait by the last day - you can see a selection of the many stages a portrait goes through for me. Acrylics on paper.

My painting demo – I had a little more time to work in the evenings this week so I managed to finish this portrait by the last day. You can see a selection of the many stages a portrait goes through for me. Acrylics on paper.

Some artists took inspiration from our surroundings in the building and some an imagined narrative. There were completed works and works in progress that can be continued after the workshop.

Gillian Lee Smith - Paintings by Kathie Vezzani, Kathy Sandler, Carol MacConnell

Paintings by Kathie Vezzani, Kathy Sandler, Carol MacConnell

Gillian Lee Smith - Paintings by Kara Strachan Bullock, Erin Santen, Joan Tucker

Paintings by Kara Strachan Bullock, Erin Santen, Joan Tucker

I hope you are inspired by these images and the vast range of styles, aesthetics, colour palettes and expression – each person embracing their own unique style! For me, looking back at all of these images, I know without reading the label exactly who painted which piece. That is the true mark of a wonderful week of creating with a group – when each person has delved further into progressing their own style and narrative.

Gillian Lee Smith - Paintings by Ivy Newport and Angela Kennedy

Paintings by Ivy Newport and Angela Kennedy

Gillian Lee Smith - Morning gatherings and a busy room of creativity

Morning gatherings and a busy room of creativity

Some of my favourite moments were in our morning circle where we each had a chance to chat about what we wished to focus on for that day – and for each person it was different. There was also much laughter and even a few tears as we encouraged each other, worked through challenges and embraced the unpredictable nature of creating art.

Both classes were an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to see where these artists journey to next in their artwork.

Once again – It was such an honour to work with Kathie of Bellissima Art Escapes. Kathie works with an incredible range of artists and there are a wonderful selection of trips for the coming months and next year. We are currently planning some trips for 2018 and I am excited to announce news of those soon. Make sure you are signed up to my mailing list for updates in the near future.

Next stop is Amsterdam from the 19th May!